REVIEW – Remember Me at Twilight
Strat Andriotis is a Greek-born Canadian-based guitarist who has been making waves in the jazz world with his original compositions and collaborations. He has released several albums that showcase his eclectic influences, ranging from Django Reinhardt to John McLaughlin, from classical music to rock. His latest album, “Remember Me At Twilight”, features jazz violin legend Jerry Goodman and saxophonist Aaron Heick, among others. The album takes the listener on a well-rounded jazz journey, with elements of gypsy jazz, neoclassical, and contemporary jazz. Andriotis’ guitar playing is virtuosic, expressive, and versatile, blending seamlessly with the other musicians. He demonstrates his creativity and skill as a composer and producer, creating memorable melodies and rich harmonies. “Remember Me At Twilight” is a must-listen for fans of instrumental jazz guitar music that is fresh and innovative.
REVIEW – Remember Me at Twilight
Greek born and Canadian living guitarist Strat Andriotis serves up a swinging fusion of sounds on this strong release, his fourth. He’s got a tone and sense of attack not unlike John Scofield, rich and tensile in tone, clean and polished like a restored ’61 Chevy grill, and able to swing or funk it up a bit with a flexible yet steady core team of drummer/percussionist Dave King, bassist Paul Intsom and electric pianist Howie Silverman, who supplies a lot of the soulful atmospheres.
In the quartet setting, Andriotis takes his smoky blues of a title track and relaxes the strings like a swinging hammock, deftly supported by King’s sublime cymbals, while the drummer’s backbeat creates a deep pocket for the leader to do some clean picking on “If You Only Knew”. Silverman shows he’s learned some nice tricks from his stints with boppers like Dizzy Gillespie and Art Farmer, as he gives some pretty lines with on “The Past Doesn’t Matter” .
The more fusiony moments are felt when Mahavishnu Orchestra alumnus Jerry Goodman brings in his violin to lock arms with Andriotis’ guitar and ride the tricky roller coaster of the sleek post bopper “Locked In” and the sinewy “The Drive By” which mixes fervent lines and plucking pulsations. Guest tenor saxist Aaron Heick brings in his breathy horn to meld with droplets of guitar strings for a mellifluous “BME (Big Medicated Express” as well as a muscular bopper of “Jazz Pig” with the lyrical “Endings” a true soul sacrifice.
Andriotis shows his dexterity with a reflective solo intro that eventually has him pop the clutch into overdrive on the post bopper “Passages” while the creative take of the standard “Cherokee” has King cascade into a gorgeous groove for the leader to ride like a long boarder. Versatile vibes abound-this guy has an ax that cuts sharp and deep.
REVIEW – Night Manager
Strat Andriotis, born in Greece and now residing in Hamilton, Ontario, has released three albums with pianist Tom Carney as well as three solo albums beginning with Liars Incorporated (2014), Less Off Patient (2016) and his new release Night Manager. I became familiar with the artist after reviewing the Less Off Patient album.
The new album explores gypsy flavoured jazz and features Andriotis’ outstanding acoustic guitar along with violin courtesy of Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Flock). Adrean Farrugia and Gonzalo Rubalcaba add piano on three tracks.
This is a very tastefully executed acoustic album with the pairing of acoustic guitar and violin working remarkably well. Andriotis’ guitar virtuosity shines on the first track “Song 21” also featuring a tasty piano solo from Rubalcaba. Add Goodman’s violin solo to Andriotis’ fast guitar licks and you have the makings of some fine jazz fusion music. The violin on “Secrets” is quite intense and the fast guitar runs make for another nice slice of gypsy influenced jazz. The next two tracks; “Chili’s Blues” and “Can’t Wait” have a bluesier touch. The easy flowing arrangements, including some excellent piano from Farrugia on “Chili’s Blues” is pure class. One of the prettiest tracks is “Avid” where the violin and guitar work marvelously together, each taking turns with some incredibly fast runs without losing the nuanced melodies along the way. Another highlight has to be Goodman’s violin tones in “Feverpitch”, the song’s title telling you all you need to know.
Night Manager is a very nice acoustic jazz album, superbly produced and arranged with great musicianship throughout. Fans of acoustic guitar will want to give this some attention. Recommended.
REVIEW – Night Manager
Written by Robert Silverstein
April 21, 2019 – 2:34pm EDT
Based way up north in Hamilton Ontario, Canada, guitarist / composer Strat Andriotis returned in 2018 with another album of unique guitar magic called Night Manager. Featuring Strat’s guitar backed up by memorable contributions from legendary violinist Jerry Goodman—appearing on seven of the eight tracks—and South Florida’s Cuban piano icon Gonzalo Rubalcaba, on one track, Night Manager also spotlights Canadian pianist Adrean Farrugia on a pair of tracks. According to Strat, “Gonzalo and Jerry overdubbed their parts in their studios. The chemistry is pretty amazing. It sounds that we are playing in the same room.” Commenting further about Night Manager contributions from violin legend Jerry Goodman, Strat explains, “Jerry’s playing sometimes reminds me of Grappelli.
You get to hear Jerry play differently than he did with Mahavishnu. But he still lays out those lightning fast runs heard on the early Mahavishnu recordings! “The Arrival” is a song that Jerry’s melody became the hook.” A perfect example of smart musicianship and recording in an age where musicians, with the help of untold futuristic technology, can record an album with other musicians thousands of miles apart, Night Manager perfects this releatively recent recording art form and makes it a fantastic reality. The sound of the eight cut album is so perfectly designed so you can almost hear the rosin flying off of Jerry’s violin bow, while the elegant piano work of Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Adrean Farrugia tastefully adds to the excitement of Strat’s guitar wizardry.
Although Strat is also a gifted pianist, it’s really his guitar work that is central to the overall success of the Night Manager sound. The intense swing of the recording may seem overwhelming to music lovers at times, but the beauty of Night Manager comes with repeated listening. With sheet music and expert musicians on hand to expedite the realization and recording process, Night Manager stays up after hours but Strat’s late night guitar action is well worth it.
REVIEW – Night Manager
March 30th 2019 Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews: Strat Andriotis : Night Manager
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer
Showcasing his jaw dropping acoustic guitar talent, Strat Andriotis teams up with violinist Jerry Goodman to call on the Night Manager. Also in attendance are pianists Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Adrean Farrugia. And this merry band quickly lead us into the third in a series of gypsy jazz style instrumental based albums that eagerly push at the boundaries of the traditional approach and in the end evolve into almost progressive, acoustic-shred gypsy jazz rock.
There’s a lot going on here and yet at the same time the end results can still at times feel pleasingly small and intimate. Across the album seven original compositions are revealed, alongside a solo cover from Andriotis of the 1942 piece “I Hear A Rhapsody”, and together the collection draws comparisons to the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt or Stephan Grappelli. However, that vintage world is then keenly presented through an excellent and sparkling production that moves things into a different, separate sphere altogether. At times the melodies across some of these pieces can be overpowered by the sheer virtuosity on display, with tumbles of notes barely kept in check, but if this style is something you are already familiar with then it will be no great surprise to encounter.
However, there’s a warmth and authenticity brought into focus that breaks down some of these barriers and welcomes you in. Running to just under 35 minutes, there’s also an old school feel that allows you to quickly get to know the music at hand and while it can at times be just a touch too stark for its own good, there’s no denying the great skill and heart behind it.
REVIEW – Night Manager
Night Manager (Dekatria Records 003, 2018, CD) by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-05-04
Actively recording since the mid-90s with five releases to his credit, Greek born composer and guitarist extraordinaire Strat Andriotis migrated with his family to Canada when he was a teenager, around 1967, a time when music was going through tremendous waves of change; he was influenced by Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Jimi Hendrix, and other psychedelic rock of the period. With his 2018 album Night Manager, he explores a purely instrumental gypsy jazz repertoire along with none other than the esteemed violin master Jerry Goodman (The Flock, Mahavishnu Orchestra and numerous outstanding solo releases), as well as Cuban born Grammy winning pianist (now resident in Florida) Gonzalo Rubalcaba (on the opener “Song 21”) and Canadian pianist Adrean Farrugia (on second and third tracks “Secrets” and “Chili’s Blues”).
There are no drums here, or bass, or any instruments besides acoustic guitar (okay, he does play electric occasionally), violin and piano, which turns out to be a refreshing break from the typically electrified and amplified sounds we review in these pages. How does one describe these intriguing, beautiful and melodically colorful compositions? One just has to immerse themselves in it and enjoy the experience. With the exception of multi-tracked guitar closer “I Hear a Rhapsody” (a cover tune from the 40s), and “The Arrival” co-written with Goodman, all the compositions are credited solely to Andriotis. While I listen to this I am often reminded of an old LP that I had decades ago by Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grapelli and the gentle jazzy moods they explored so seamlessly together. If you know that magic, it’s here on Night Manager.
REVIEW – Night Manager
This 2018 album is the third in a series of Gypsy Jazz releases by acoustic guitarist Strat Andriotis, and here is he accompanied by legendary violinist Jerry Goodman, who I will always associate with Mahavishnu Orchestra although he has been in the likes of Dixie Dregs and recorded numerous albums. Pianists Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Adrean Farrugia often find themselves plating support to the other two, as they lead the music through numerous twists and turns. Goodman often contributes nearly as much to a piece by not playing as when he does, as Andriotis often defers to the violinist, rarely taking the lead when the other is also playing. Yet when he is given the opportunity Andriotis really can move.
The biggest single issue with the album is that the songs themselves are too short, as is the album, with eight numbers in less than 35 minutes, and I would have much preferred if the musicians had allowed themselves to extend further. The result is something which is incredibly enjoyable, so much so that the listener wishes it were longer. Anyone who plays this style of music is always going to find themselves compared to Quintette du Hot Club de France, and while no-one is ever going to say this is more impressive than Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli, this is an album which fans of the originals should be seeking out.
REVIEW – Night Manager
Canadian guitar virtuoso Strat Andriotis collaborates with iconic musicians from the jazz and fusion world on Night Manager. The guests are legendary violinist Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra), famed Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and pianist Adrean Farrugia. The album includes masterful and captivating electro-acoustic interactions between Andriotis’ guitars, Jerry Goodman’s violin and Rubalcaba’s piano. The music easily crosses boundaries between contemporary jazz, classical, progressive jazz-rock and Gypsy violin.
Night Manager by Strat Andriotis released August 28, 2018. It is the third genre-bending series of albums by Strat Andriotis following the 2015 and 2017 release of Liars Incorporated and Less Off Patient. Setting this album apart is guest artist Jerry Goodman who plays on 7 of the eight tracks. Jerry Goodman is the legendary jazz-rock violinist and co-founder of both “The Flock” and “The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Other A-listers contributing to Night Manager are the world-renowned and four-time Grammy winning pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba (playing on Song 21) and Adrean Farrugia (Secrets and Chili’s Blues). Dizzy Gillespie said, “Gonzalo is the best pianist I’ve heard in 10 years.”
Strat Andriotis produced the album and composed seven of the eight songs with one co-write by Jerry Goodman. Strat’s virtuosic guitar skills contribute to all tracks of this solid mix of contemporary, acoustic instrumental jazz with Gypsy-jazz style melodies. Strat recorded his parts at 51 Sounds in Hamilton Ontario as did Adrean Farrugia. Sean Magee mastered Night Manager at Abbey Road studios in London, England.
Song 21 immediately throws you into the sounds you can only hope to explore for the rest of the album. The opening sounds of Strat’s guitar intro and the stunning arrival of Goodman’s rich violin voice leads us towards fantastic percussive bursts from Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s piano on his sole contribution to the album.
Secrets beautifully reveals a melody that starts from a deceptively traditional place but through the achingly beautiful voice of Goodman’s violin becomes remarkable. Strat Andriotis’ virtuosic work on the fretboard provides exploration around and through the melody while Adrean Farrugia’s exquisite accompaniment allows this piece to soar.
The short A Minor7th chord from Adrean Farrugia’s piano languishes but briefly before Chili’s Blues slides into a full voiced composition. Goodman’s violin shocks with an incisive opening voice. The song is too short, but checking the actual length was surprising. This is a testament to Strat Andriotis’ compositional skills. All three artists give exquisite treatment to this piece.
Can’t Wait represents perhaps the most traditional sound of the album. The guitar and the violin sound beautiful together. This song is enthralling right from the beautifully played intro by Andriotis to the extraordinary violin cadenza by Jerry Goodman.
Avid subtly surprises with a call and response motif which seemingly starts from a more traditional sound and responds with a modern contemporary voice. This makes for an intriguing composition.
The best word to describe the sixth track is already in the title. Feverpitch takes us out but somehow maintains a melodic frenzy. Jerry Goodman really impresses as does Andriotis’ accompaniment and solos.
The Arrival earns Andriotis the esteemed position of having Jerry Goodman as co-writer. Andriotis is at his best here and the fullness of voice from Goodman’s violin continues to amaze through this enchanting composition.
I Hear a Rhapsody, is a 1941 classic by Fragos, Baker and Gasparre. Andriotis plays solo on this famous song. He leads off with the unadorned and famous melody, edging into a great modern sounding improvisation rendered by an almost instinctual gypsy jazz flavour. It is a beautiful finish to a great album.
Strat Andriotis’ guitar and Jerry Goodman’s violin are pure magic together. This is a compelling contemporary album interweaving the timeless gypsy-jazz style with modern voicings. Night Manager is an ears-wide-open pleasure to listen to.
REVIEW – Less Off Patient
Influenced by the great jazz guitar legends from Django Reinhardt to John McLaughlin, Greece-born / Canadian-based guitarist Strat Andriotis is making waves in the music world with his recently-released CD entitled Less Off Patient.
The follow up to Strat’s critically acclaimed 2015 CD, Liars Incorporated, this new album (out now via Dekatria Records) is, to my mind, his best work of musical art yet.
1. ‘Less Off Patient’
2. ‘There’s Always Tomorrow’
3. ‘Grey Song’
4. ‘A Behaviour Pattern’
5. ‘The Dimming Light’
6. ‘185 To Freedom’
7. ‘Where It Goes’
8. ‘Inner Change’
10. ‘Long Days’
11. ‘Somewhere In Time My Love’
Featuring eleven original tracks of enchanting instrumental guitar music, blending Gypsy Jazz and Neoclassical music, Less Off Patient also finds Strat joined by his trio mates: Adrianna Lee (violin) and Jeff Vidov (piano).
The playful ‘Less Off Patient’ is first to present itself to us and is a great forerunner for what’s to come. The meaningful, preciseness of ‘There’s Always Tomorrow’ is my personal favorite and that’s backed by both the stunning violin work from Lee within ‘Grey Song’ and then the rampant piano work from Vidov on ‘A Behavior Pattern.’
The perky ‘The Dimming Light’ is next and that’s is followed by the beautiful guitar work of Andriotis found with ‘185 To Freedom’. Next up is another stand out track, the old fashioned-sounding ‘Where It Goes’, with the hectic ‘Inner Change’ along next. ‘Duet’ allows Andriotis to pair of alongside Lee simpatico-style, and then the album rounds out with ‘Long Days,’ and then the flamenco-styling brilliance of ‘Somewhere In Time My Love.’
And, just so you are aware, the eye-catching cover art is of a hospital patient, and a late friend of Andriotis’, Freddy Brown. The music found on the CD is also a celebration of life, one in which Andriotis’ guitar music honors the illustrious past. Anne Carlini
Apr 01, 2017
Influenced by jazz guitar legends Django Reinhardt and John McLaughlin, Greece-born (now Canada-based) guitarist Strat Andriotis has released his latest CD entitled Less Off Patient, the follow up to Strat’s critically acclaimed 2015 CD, Liars Incorporated. Less Off Patient features eleven original tracks of instrumental guitar music, blending elements of Gypsy jazz and classical music. Strat is joined by Adrianna Lee (violin) and Jeff Vidov (piano).
There is definitely a European flavor here. Bouncing and inspiring, these relatively short pieces are a treat; acoustic, effects-free performances that harken back to a simpler time. The purity of tones and strength of the musicianship makes for repeated listening, and you’ll likely notice something remarkable with each new spin. The songwriting is top-notch, and the range of moods (and even the order of the songs) makes for a finely-crafted presentation.
Fans of the aforementioned guitarists, as well as John Jorgenson, Bireli Lagrene, and Stephane Grappelli will find much to like here. It would be a bit unfair to claim that this is just a modern take on time-honored traditional styles, since the concept and delivery seems so personal to these players. Each of the three musicians exhibit great facility and tastefulness throughout. There’s no bombastic overplaying to be found, yet their skill is clearly on display, in service of the harmony and melody at hand.
A great disc to chill out with while driving or to put on at your next dinner party, Less Off Patient is a balanced and well-recorded collection. Kudos to Strat for making music of this class and virtuosity, and for making it available for the rest of us.
mwe3: Less Off Patient is a great follow up CD to Liars Incorporated. Being that both albums feature your guitar backed up by Jeff Vidov on piano and Adrianna Lee on violin, how are the two albums different as far as your approach to composing, performance and recording?
Strat Andriotis: I gave Adrianna more of a featured role, writing her a lot more solos and passages. Because we had all played a few dates together, I think Less Off Patient has more of a freedom to it. Jeff’s piano playing once again is terrific and soul-inspiring. This album came together rather quickly because of our familiarity from playing with each other.
mwe3: Liars Incorporated took five years to make. Was it somewhat easier this time around for Less Off Patient as you’re working with the same crew of musicians and the same producer? Was the chemistry the same this time around?
Strat Andriotis: Absolutely. Everybody involved with Less Off Patient had a much easier guide to the music, largely in part because of our previous work together.
mwe3: On Less Off Patient, did you write all the music out by hand or do you use a computer program? Most of the melodic lines on Less Off Patient are played by all the instruments simultaneously which is quite unique these days! As there’s not too many solos, clearly the music is the main vehicle for the sonic ideas!
Strat Andriotis: For writing the music I use a computer program, which makes it easier. In most cases I will start to write the songs on the guitar first but after a few times I will start with a piano first approach. I have to say there are a lot more solos for guitar and violin than on Liars Incorporated. Sometimes two guitar solos in one song.
mwe3: You say John McLaughlin is your main influence on the guitar. Is the Django connection valid on Less Off Patient and why do you think Gypsy Jazz has remained so popular in the music world?
Strat Andriotis: The funny thing is I first heard John McLaughlin before Django, when I was a kid. I was introduced to Django’s music a few years later. I guess from listening to McLaughlin, whose biggest guitar influence was Django, I soaked up some of the guitar work. I guess you can hear the influence of Django especially when I play acoustic guitar. When you think about Django’s music, it has been around close to a hundred years and his playing stands the test of time, just ask any guitar player.
mwe3: Were the Less Off Patient recording sessions done the same way as Liars Incorporated in that you say that the piano was recorded first, followed by guitar and then violin? How did that approach translate into the finished Less Off Patient recording? The Less Off Patient recording sound is so perfect that it really seems like you’re recording with the trio together at the same time! Was Bob Doidge in the room with you when all the artists were recording their parts?
Strat Andriotis: The same approach was used on Less Off Patient as on Liars Incorporated. The song “Duet” was done live off the floor with Adrianna and I. Bob was at all the sessions we recorded. His mic-ing technique is amazing. The violin, piano and guitar have such a rich texture to them.
mwe3: Bob Doidge recorded some cello on Liars Incorporated so did Bob add in any parts this time and can you tell us something about Bob’s overall contributions to Less Off Patient and how about Amy King’s mastering of the album? The mastering sounds very full and bright, nothing gets buried in the mix and there’s not too much echo. Hence my Django comparison!
Strat Andriotis: Bob did not play on this record. His ear is truly amazing and he helped with some decisions on the outcome of the record. I find sometimes I get too caught up in making sure everything is perfect sounding that I might lose some moments that are happy accidents. Bob is good at recognizing those moments. I asked Amy to master the record a little hotter than usual and the added bass and treble sounds great. Very intimate.
mwe3: You seem to have an inclination towards using controversial cover art on your albums! You mentioned how you rushed a friend to the hospital and saw all the patients, all the sick and destitute ones so that was one reason why you named the album Less Off Patient. Do you think you might scare some more conservative fans away with the CD cover art? I guess it’s, if that’s the case, that’s their loss.
Strat Andriotis: I love the artwork on both Less Off Patient and Liars. I feel the artwork sets up the music that accompanies it. It is truly different than most instrumental records you might see and also listen to. The music, I feel, is as original as its cover and that means the world to me. Showing the world some injustices at the same time puts a smile on my face.
mwe3: You say you practice arpeggios and scales to stay in shape. What are your favorite scales and arpeggios and chord progressions to practice and how else did you stay in shape to prepare for the Less Off Patient sessions? When did you learn to read and write music and how does that impact both your guitar playing, your practicing and your compositional approach to writing music?
Strat Andriotis: I pretty well use major and minor scales with some diminished scales, diminished arpeggios and some passing tones for color. I started to read music when I was eleven years old and I started to write music a few years later. To me composition is the most important thing in creating songs. Solos always sound better when you have created a nice canvas.
mwe3: As far as getting the Less Off Patient CD better heard and listened to by the audiences, are you planning to target the jazz or classical music markets?
Strat Andriotis: I would like for both genres to be excited about Less Off Patient and also would be nice to see some rock music fans into it.
mwe3: Do you mind people mentioning your Greek heritage when describing your music? Do you think you’ve assimilated your Greek roots when it comes to writing music? You did mention that, even though you left Canada and you’ve lived in Canada since you were four, you did get some exposure to Greek music.
Strat Andriotis: I don’t think I play too much Greek influenced music. My dad would play some Greek music at home but not too much. I guess some might say when I am doing a solo it reminds them a little of a bouzouki player.
mwe3: On Liars Incorporated, you used the Godin 5th Avenue guitar and the 1956 Gibson ES 225. Are those the guitars you also recorded Less Off Patient with?
Strat Andriotis: For this record I used my 2014 Gibson SJ200 exclusively with the exception of a 1959 Gibson L-48 which I used for “Somewhere In Time My Love”. The L-48 belongs to one of my best friends, Neil Brown whose father was Freddy Brown. (To whom the record is dedicated – editor)
mwe3: Also what can you tell us about your finger-picking techniques? Do you use a pick?
Strat Andriotis: I am a pick-playing guitarist. I do use a little finger picking playing which you can hear in “185 To Freedom”.
mwe3: What’s been the reaction to your music in Canada? Is the Canada market open to your adventurous music or are you looking more to the US and beyond for exposure and airplay / reviews? Are you happy with the internet as many are complaining of infringement and even theft from not receiving royalties from all the downloading and sites like YouTube, etc?
Strat Andriotis: Canada has been very supportive to my music but the U.S. is a much bigger market with more avenues for airplay and touring. As far as internet downloads go, what can you do? I have received some royalties from YouTube but then again my music only attracts maybe 5 percent of music listeners.
mwe3: With Less Off Patient being released on CD internationally in September 2016, what can you say to music fans to open their ears to the great music on your amazing new album?
Strat Andriotis: I hope people will have a listen… Sometimes it takes a few spins to get into it. You might like what hear in the end.
Cole, Kennedy and Strat Andriotis win big
Cole won three awards herself, including female artist of the year and adult alternative recording of the year. The Ancaster native also performed at the show, nailing a tight rendition of the title track from her debut album, Dirty Cheat. “Hamilton has such a tight scene and community,” Cole said after the show. “It’s such a great thing to be a part of. I didn’t expect any of this.”
Blues icon Harrison Kennedy and guitarist Strat Andriotis also won three awards each.
One of the most lighthearted parts of the show came when Catherine North Studio’s Scott Peacock managed to knock over the award statue he was presenting onstage – cracking it completely in half. “It was both completely awkward and hilarious at the same time,” Peacock said after the show, as a long line of people ribbed him about the onstage gaffe. “It’s a proud moment, I think. I’m going to look back on this throughout my career and remember the time that I broke a Hamilton music award.”
On his 2015 CD, entitled Liars Incorporated, guitarist Strat Andriotis redefines the role of the guitar in classical music. The twelve track Liars Incorporated CD clocks in at just under 28 minutes but it’s filled with some breathtaking guitar-centric, classically inspired music. Assisting Strat on this CD are some gifted accompanists—Jeff Vidov (piano) and Adrianna Lee (violin). Also on the CD are Katie Avery (violin) and album co-producer Bob Doidge (cello). Although Strat grew up in Canada listening to Cream and Jimi Hendrix, his love of jazz was ignited by the Miles Davis album In A Silent Way. His early solo albums featured nylon string guitar and piano with samples and, following another venture into the realm of hard rock, in early 2015 Strat returned to the neoclassical guitar style. Inspired by classical music greats such as Paganini, Satie and Beethoven, Strat recorded Liars Incorporated.
The results are truly striking and quite satisfying, both from a guitar perspective and a neoclassical music perspective. Strat’s fluid guitar work is in total sync with the other musicians and instead of stealing the spotlight with his mercurial guitar skills, he acts as the central cog in a well oiled musical machine. Perhaps the most fascinating thing is that Strat has written all the music here, so while it may sound like it was composed in another century, the music here is actually a well honed representation of 21st century neo-classical guitar-centric music at its finest. Another good thing is, how often you play this amazing CD, it never seems to wear out its welcome. Liars Incorporated is a masterful guitar statement from neoclassical / rock guitar maestro Strat Andriotis.
MWE3.com Presents an Interview with Strat Andriotis
mwe3: Tell us how your new CD, Liars Incorporated came together. Even though you have a rock and jazz background as a guitarist, the CD is very classical in nature. Would you say your preference in music is rock, jazz or classical? Also how did you come up with the title? Seems like a rather jolting title compared to the mellifluous sounds inside.
Strat Andriotis: Liars took close to five years to finish. I was doing a lot of writing and wanted to involve piano and violin in the compositions. All the music was written out pretty well note for note. The piano was my first instrument and I have always loved writing music for it. I enjoy all types of music but if I had to pick I would say classical, jazz and rock in that order, but that could change next year! (lol) I wanted this album to have impact from the music to the graphics to the title. The handshake says it all, powerful yet simple and enigmatic.
mwe3: How do you balance and assimilate your guitar influences on the new CD? For example, I heard that in writing the music for Liars Incorporated you spent time listening to classical masters like Paganini, Satie and Beethoven but I also heard that you listen a lot of Django Reinhardt so one could say there’s kind of a mercurial guitar style and sound working here.
Strat Andriotis: The first thing I listen to or write is melody and how I can intertwine a passage with the other instruments. Solos are the last thing I work on for a composition. Now don’t get me wrong. I have practiced endless hours on guitar techniques, scales etc… But the beauty of writing a nice passage to solo later is very rewarding. John McLaughlin is probably my biggest guitar influence
mwe3: Who is playing with you on the Liars Incorporated CD and what were the recording sessions like? Also what was it like working with co-producer Bob Doidge and what did Bob bring to the album sessions?
Strat Andriotis: I have Jeff Vidov on piano and Adrianna Lee on violin. Katie Avery played violin on “Under”. These players did an amazing job. There are a lot of 16th note lines that Jeff and I played together. Adrianna and Katie played their parts beautifully. It helps that they are classically trained musicians and can read music very well. Because of our time schedule all the parts were played separately. Piano first, guitar second and violin last. Working with Bob at Grant Avenue Studio was fantastic. He has such a great ear for acoustic instruments. Most of the parts recorded were done as full takes and very little punch ins. I love Bob’s cello in “The Interlude”.
mwe3: How would you compare Liars Incorporated with your earlier recorded works that you made with Tom Carney? What other recordings have you made?
Strat Andriotis: Liars by far for me is the most rewarding. The music I wrote with Tom Carney was a glimpse of what was coming with Liars. Other recordings… I was in a rock project in 2006 that featured Roger Banks on drums, Jim Gilmour (Saga) on keyboards and Tony Levin on bass / chapman stick. The band was called XXX Sublimator.
mwe3: Can you tell us when you started playing guitar and about your early music studies? Have your practice routines changed over the years? How do you stay in shape musically as far as exercises and other practice routines go?
Strat Andriotis: My earliest influence on guitar was Clapton and Hendrix, then I heard John McLaughlin. I wanted to quit when I first heard him. He is amazing. I try to practice different things all the time and I always practice with a clean guitar sound. A lot of made up arpeggios/scales and chord progressions really.
mwe3: What was your first guitar and what guitars are featured on the Liars Incorporated CD and what other guitars do you feature on your other albums, live shows and in guitar guitar arsenal overall? It sounds like you’re playing an electric guitar on Liars Incorporated even though the music is classical. Is that a rightful assumption?
Strat Andriotis: I played two guitars on Liars. A Godin 5th Avenue archtop and a 1956 Gibson ES 225, on “Under” only. Right now I have a 1991 Gibson ES 175 and a 1980 Les Paul standard. The nylon string guitar is a Washburn. I only used that guitar for the Tom Carney records. When I play live no effects are used. Guitar straight to amp.
mwe3: In making the Liars Incorporated are you trying to simultaneously reach out more to the classical music fans and the rock fans interested in hearing some truly unique classically inspired guitar music? I was thinking the dynamics of rock but played as classical music?
Strat Andriotis: Yeah… You pretty well nailed there Robert. I would like some rock fans to crossover to this music. Even though it is classically based the music has some aggression to it.
mwe3: Tell us about your family moving from Greece to Canada and how the Greek musical influence impacts your guitar sound. Would you say there’s a Canadian influence in your music? How would you compare living in the two countries and where do you live now and what do you like best about it?
Strat Andriotis: For the most part I do not remember too much about Greece. I left there when I was around four years old. Growing up Canada in a Greek household was beneficial to me. Listened to some bouzouki music. The influence I got growing up in Canada was not from music but my interactions with people that have crossed my life. Most of Liars is written about them.
mwe3: What are you hoping music fans will come away with after listening to the Liars Incorporated CD? Also what other plans do you have for your music and guitar playing in 2015? Are there other musical directions you’d like to go in next and how about future musical goals and other future musical moves you are considering?
Strat Andriotis: Hopefully something fresh and inspiring. I think it is an album that will grow on you the more you listen. Trying to play some festivals this year I will not know till later in April if it is going to happen. Hoping to record some classical music but with more instruments involved maybe a small orchestra.